Tracy Ying Zhang
Postdoctoral fellow in International Studies and Research
Université de Montréal
Award-winning publication: Bending the body for China: the uses of acrobatics in Sino-US diplomacy during the Cold War
Published in: International Journal of Cultural Policy, 3 octobre 2014
"Most studies on the cultural history of the Cold War explore the influence of the global export of American culture within the context of the psychological warfare between the communist east and the west. My research on Chinese acrobatic diplomacy describes a non-American cultural output, revealing alternative political rationales. In addition, an analysis of the roles of acrobats in political communications avoids the development of a narrative centred and focused on the state. My approach therefore provides a nuanced understanding of Chinese foreign policy in North America and emphasizes the participation of non-state agents in the international diplomatic process."
This case study describes how arts and culture served to strengthen global political-economic relationships. As part of her research, Tracy Ying Zhang conducted interviews with Chinese acrobats who visited the United States as cultural diplomats in the 1970s. She also studied documents and archives in libraries in the US, China and Canada. Understanding the evolution of China's acrobatic sector and its impacts on the international circus industry could help political decision-makers, circus companies and artists in Québec identify their mutual interests and the determining factors that could enable them to collaborate more effectively with troupes of Chinese acrobats.